Don’t forget the curry might on Monday! It’s not too late to sign up to come along or to invite a friend if you haven’t already. It’s only £5 for you and a friend to come along and enjoy an evening together with good food, fun, friendship and a talk. There will be a short evangelistic talk entitled “Food with friends – Jesus’ description of heaven”.
We can cater for any dietary requirements you may have as long as you let us know as soon as possible – even if you don’t like or can’t eat curry. Don’t let the curry put you off
It looks like it’s going to be a really enjoyable evening – so I look forward to seeing you there!
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
There are various translations for the words “good life” – good conversation, good behaviour, good conduct and noble conduct.
I really like the translation “noble conduct” which is very challenging. How do I conduct myself in regard to others?
You might think that what follows is the ranting of an old man but I honestly feel that we have lost something in the way we deal with others. Treating others with respect is another way of putting it.
Do we recognise that everybody is entitled to have an opinion? We may not agree with them but their opinion is as valid as ours until they, or even we (perish the thought) are proved wrong.
One major area of changing conduct is our attitude towards women. Many men have capitulated to extreme feminism and no longer hold a door open for a woman, insist on carrying heavy things for them etc. How do we refer to wives, girl friends, sisters etc. not forgetting mothers-in-law?
What about the way we deal with children? Are you an encourager or a “putter-downer”?
How do we treat the elderly? Do we ensure that they are being taken care of, given help when frailty makes things difficult? Do we even acknowledge their existence or treat them as though their day has passed?
Enough from me!
Remember the words of Jesus:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Mat. 7.12
Reminder: Men’s Sports Evening is tonight – PBC Lounge – 7.30pm – Entry free. Please email email@example.com to let us know whether or not you can make it. See below for more info.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
(James 3:1-5 ESV)
Sticks and stones may break my bones. But bones heal – hearts take much longer.
From the compliment that leaves you walking on air, through to the criticism that slips past your defences like a blade between the ribs, we all know the playground rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is one of the biggest lies that parents teach their children. The words we utter have the power to create and sustain relationships, but there are precious few relationships that can’t be pulverised with a few choice words delivered at the right (wrong) moment.
We so easily excuse the angry or the cruel or the crushing words as “authenticity” or “honesty” – dressing up our lack of self-control as a faux-virtue. As if it’s better to be honestly cruel than careful and compassionate. As if.
It is better to be silent than “authentically” harsh. Better to say nothing than to say things that are “honestly” uncalled for.
The God who spoke the world into existence, also made us in his image as people who speak. And although our words do not have the same raw creative power, nor finality, they do have power. Part of being re-made in the image of Jesus is learning to use those words to give life, not crush it. To bless, rather than curse. To build up, rather than destroy.
As we sang at Nigel & Trace’s wedding on Saturday, we should be praying:
Father, I want to be with You
and do the things You do.
father, I want to speak the words
that You are speaking too.
Father, I want to love the ones
that You will draw to You,
for I know that I am one with You.
Tonight – Feb 18th – 7.30pm
Paulsgrove Baptist Church Lounge.
We’d love to see you at the Sports Night tonight – there’ll be a mixture of games – a bit of 3-a-side football in the hall (assuming we have enough interest) and some less energetic games in the lounge. Maurice will be giving a short evangelistic talk towards the end of the evening.
There won’t be a proper meal, but there will be snacks – drinks, crisps and hotdogs.
We’re aiming for an informal evening, with plenty of opportunity to both chat and beat each other at various games.
If you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know whether or not you’re planning to make it, that’d help with catering.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
A great fairground attraction is always the Hall of Mirrors. The Hall contains all types of mirrors which distort the image in many different ways – usually not at all flattering. I am pretty sure that we all use a mirror one way or another for appearance reasons or other purposes, for instance, mirrors are used to look under vehicles to see if there are bombs attached to the chassis. Mirrors are also used to take a look into places of difficult access, they are used in shops to enable shopkeepers to see what is happening in all parts of the shop and some folk who have concealed entrances use them to see if the road is clear for them to leave.
But the main use is to check on one’s appearance so we have mirrors in the bathroom for shaving, near the front door to make sure we look good to face the world outside. My daughter-in-law is very particular about her appearance and a “normal” mirror does not give her the clarity of image she needs so she fixes onto the normal mirror a smaller one which shows up things in greater detail-the hair out of place etc.
When we look into a mirror what we see is what the world sees but we are told in the Scriptures that “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. I Samuel 16.7b. With Photoshop and other devices we can doctor photos to enhance our appearance but what others see is not all that God sees, He gets a real picture. God sees the heart! Now on two occasions I have seen right into my heart by means of an angiogram but even that did not show me what is in my heart – take your pick out of what we read in Mark 7.20-22.
So if the mirror does not present a full picture, not even the angiogram does the job and God is not there to tell me what I look like where do I go to get a real image of myself. The answer is in the text above, it is by looking into “The perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it” v.25. Yes, the way forward is to really study the Word of God praying that the Holy Spirit will guide and enlighten you and make you into the person that God wants you to be.
And, by the way, do not forget the widows and orphans!
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Are you looking at life with your eyes set on eternity, looking at the situations and struggles that you face with an eternal perspective? No matter how tough a time you are having you know it will pass. Just as if everything is great and going well we need to be careful not cling on to it too tightly for that will take our eyes off Jesus.
We need to ensure our way of thinking is shaped around Jesus and what we have in him, rather than drawn from other lesser things we put faith in that will turn out to be short lived. When you’ve had a stressful day at work or you’re going through tough times where do you turn? How would you finish the statement “If only I …”
Anything we look to outside of Jesus reveals sin in our hearts – sin that we need to take responsibility for and take action to stop it growing and taking hold on us. We need to repent of our lack of trust in Jesus and this idolatry, confessing it and turning away from it to set our eyes fully on Jesus. As the writer to the Hebrews writes:
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
(James 1:2-4 ESV)
“Count it all joy.” Who could seriously say such a thing? It’s a long way from “count the blessings” or “don’t despair” or “just keep looking up” or any of the other tame things that Christians mutter to other Christians when they don’t know what else to say. Words that are at best barely comforting, especially when you feel as if you’re in over your head, being suffocated by your circumstances.
And it takes some kind of guts to look your fellow Christians in eye, many of whom have already had to flee for their lives and who live in constant fear of persecution, and to tell them that they should consider it all joy. James seems to care deeply about them, but still makes a demand that sounds heartless and cruel.
Is he some Dickensian vilain? Some kind of vicious schoolmaster type who wants to see goodness beaten into his congregation? Or is something else going on here?
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers…
(Hebrews 2:10-11 ESV)
James sees in our trials what he saw in Jesus’ trials. A good and sovereign God who uses these trials to shape us, mould us and complete us. Jesus was never imperfect, but he wasn’t a complete saviour until he had suffered. Jesus was faithful in everything, but that faithfulness wasn’t seen until it was tested. It was through suffering that God perfected him – and God uses the same approach with his other children.
So James calls us to consider it joy because our sufferings show that we’re Jesus’ brothers and sisters too. We are following in Jesus’ footsteps. We count it joy because we’re not in over our heads, we’re in Christ.
James isn’t trying to be cruel – he’s calling us to consider the outcome of our trials as more significant than the experience of them – and, with that in mind, to face them with our trust firmly placed in the God who raised Jesus from the dead. And he’s promising that as we do that, we will develop a deep and Christ-like faith.
So pray and ask God for wisdom and then look the tough parts of life in the face and say: “You don’t own me – you can’t oppress me – you only get to be part of my life to help show me how to be more like Jesus.”
I have attended two weddings over Christmas – great celebrations and we hope happy marriages begun. It was good to be reminded of the special gift God has given us in marriage. Whether we are single or married it is good to remember as men the responsibilities we have to support and encourage marriage. It is an important part of our spiritual responsibility…
Here are some of the words used in introducing the wedding service:
‘Marriage is a special and unique relationship appointed by God. It is commended in the Bible as a gift to be honoured by everyone and is set apart as sacred, signifying the wonderful spiritual union between Christ and his church.
It is therefore not to be entered upon lightly or carelessly, but thoughtfully, with reverence for God, and with due consideration of the purposes for which it was established by God.
It was established for the lifelong companionship, help and strength, which husband and wife ought to give to each other.
It was established for the continuance of family life as God intended, that children, who are gifts from the Lord, should be carefully brought up and trained to love and obey him.
It was established for the good of human society, which can be strong and happy only where marriage and family life are held in honour.’
I have highlighted the last sentence – We live in a time when marriage is under threat and we see this worked out in our fragmented society. I want to encourage all who have received an invite to the marriage course to make that a priority for the new year. For those who are married we have a responsibility not just to our wives and family, but to the wider community. We have invited those who are married and are 50 and under (give or take a bit!) because we see this as an important part of strengthening the fellowship. We hope that some of the older members of the fellowship will be able to come and sit for children who may need to be cared for.
For many of us attending a marriage course will be a sacrifice, its not something we would be quick to sign up for, I appreciate that. However in both weddings I attended we read from Ephesians 5 ‘Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ This is a command to follow, the Marriage Course will provide a means for us to do this better and impact our local area.
Please come along, it will be worth it…
When I received a reminder that I was to prepare the Momentum Message for this week I took a look at the title (given above) and, first of all, thought that it was not much help. But then I thought a little more and came to the conclusion that it was a good topic after all:
All Age – Luke 2.10: One often hears “Oh, Christmas is for the children!” and often that is what is meant by “All age Services” when the main direction of the various parts of the service is towards children. We need to remember that the Christmas message given by the angels to the shepherds was “Good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” So let us make sure that this Christmas we do not forget the teenagers, disillusioned with what lies ahead of them on the job front; the young couples who cannot save enough to get on the housing market; the middle aged wondering if they will get made redundant and find another job; the “down and outs” and the elderly wondering if their family will remember them.
Family – Matthew 1.24: It was God who made Eve to be a companion for Adam and the mother of his children. It was Noah and his family that were saved from the flood. And it was to a little family that God sent His son to be brought up where he would know a father’s love and a mother’s tender care. So let us make sure that this Christmas we remember those who would love to form a family; be part of a family; those who were family but for one reason or another are bereft of either father or mother. Remember the thousands of orphans around the world, and those in our own country, longing for somebody to take them into their family.
Christmas – Luke 2.12: Yes, wrapped in cloths was how the shepherds found Jesus, the Saviour of the world! The greatest gift of all did not come gift wrapped but oh, so simply. As we remember that first Christmas let’s not go overboard with the celebrations, the tinsel and the fairy on the top of the tree which so often hide from us the truths behind the reason for the celebration.
One word is missing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Worship – Luke 2.20: In the midst of all the celebration, and celebrate we must for such a wonderful gift, let us pause a while and give thanks to God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (at Christmas), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life John 3 16.
My heart for very joy doth leap
My lips no more can silence keep;
I too must raise with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle song.
‘Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given!’
While angels sing with holy mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:18-27 ESV
Prayer is all about acknowledging our weakness and dependence on God. Now I don’t know about you but admitting I can’t do something on my own or asking for help isn’t something I feel naturally comfortable doing. God expects us to run into tough situations in life – he never said it would be easy, but he also didn’t plan for us to cope with it alone. We see here in the passage from Romans that it’s not just us groaning, the whole of creation is groaning with that longing for change for that renewing which will come when Jesus returns.
For now though on our day to day walk through this fallen world we have prayer and the Holy Spirit. God intends for us to lean on him, to walk with him and to depend on him for this day by day. As we do this, our lives will become more aligned to his as we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus.
We need to take the opportunity to repent of our pride and the lie that we can cope on our own and turn to Jesus and ask him to be part of every part of our lives, the parts we think we can control, the parts we think he’s unable to help with and the parts we think are too small or messed up for him.
Recommended reading on Prayer: A Praying Life by Paul Miller
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:12-17 ESV)
So I screwed up. Sinned. Failed. Again. God must be peeved. How do I get back on his good side? How do I fix it? Is there some sort of penance, something I need to do to put it right? The way I respond when I fail tells me an awful lot about what I think of God. And there are two common (self-centred) approaches: 1. Quit worrying. Sin doesn’t matter anymore because we’re PermaForgiven(TM). I can do whatever I feel like. or 2. Knuckle down and work really hard to try to persuade myself & God that He shouldn’t give up on me yet. And then there’s David’s God-centred approach: 3. Hate sin & trust God. He knows that God is good & forgiving. He hates the fact that he sinned, so he comes to God and says: Lord, have mercy on me. I need you. I want to be full of thankful praise for you, not consumed with self-centred disgust. Forgive me and restore me so the world can see your graciousness towards me. Like David, I need to turn from my sin to the sinless one. Focusing on and talking about our sins tends to inflame them rather than crush them. Maintaining our focus on Jesus robs us of our desire to sin. I need a “godless” self-centred, “I can fix myself” solution like I need to shoot myself in the foot. I need to quit trying to sellotape my life back together, quit pretending it’s not broken and bring my brokeness and failure to the only one who can help. The high priest who sympathises, who sanctifies and who loves me: Jesus.